Black Baseball at Target Field

My goal in creating an exhibit in partnership with Ramsey County Historical Society and writing a book and having it published by Minnesota Historical Society Press, is to share with others the history that I’ve researched, learned from others in interviews and saw while traveling with my father and watching him and his teammates and opponents play the game of baseball and fast pitch softball.  This history of Black Baseball helps complete the real story of baseball and fast pitch story in Minnesota, which has sometimes been hidden and untold.

This web site has been created to continue those stories and research that continues to happen.

I’m very fortunate to have a relationship with the Minnesota Twins Baseball team and their President, Dave St. Peter.

When Target Field opened and during one of the walk through tours with Dave St. Peter, we walked past Town Ball Tavern and on the wall outside there were photos of amateur town ball teams.  This was a great display of some of the teams from Minnesota and I know that they’ve been amazed at the number of people wanting to share more photos of teams.

Dave asked my thoughts, I remember saying (tongue in cheek), “it’s great but you don’t have any pepper in with the salt,” was my reply.

He then asked, “do you have any photos?”  I do but I don’t own them but can get rights for their use.

Dave committed at the time to insure that we shared some of the Black Baseball story at Target Field, which he says is a “Living Museum!”

At the end of the 2016, I met with Dave St. Peter, Mike Kennedy and Clyde Doepner to discuss the potential of “where,” in Target Field we could place some photos.  I brought four photos with me as suggestions and some of the history that went along with the teams included in the photos.

The photos include the 1908 St. Paul Colored Gophers and their new rival across the river, the 1908 Minneapolis Keystone Tigers.  Both of these teams similar to teams of the era were semi-professional teams (some would consider professional).  The photo of the Keystone Tigers was newly acquired from a gentleman Kent Klungstrom and since has been acquired by MHS.

Townball Tavern Black Baseball teams.jpg

The St. Paul Colored Gophers would become the standard for Black Baseball in Minnesota during their time from 1907 – 1910 with a winning percentage that many teams would love to have and which made them a drawing card whenever and where ever they played. 

  • 1907 – W 86 – L17 – T2 (.828) 
  • 1908 – W87 – L28 – T1 (.754) 
  • 1909 – W75 – L27 – T3 (.728)  Declared Black National Champions after defeating the Leland Giants of Chicago 
  • 1910 – W81 – L37 – T3 (.681) 
  • 1911 – W47 – L45 –T2 (.510) This team was no longer owned by Phil Reid and were called the Twin City Gophers.

The Minneapolis Keystone Tigers owned by Kidd Mitchell had a desire to become the best Black Baseball team in Minnesota as they began their rivalry with the Gophers.

  • 1908 – W86 – L21 – T1 (.755) 
  • 1909 – W46 – L28 – T1 (.620) 
  • 1910 – W18 – L11 (.620) 
  • 1911 – W31 – L28 – T3 (.524)

* Source, Early Black Baseball in Minnesota, The St. Paul Gophers, Minneapolis Keystone and Other Barnstorming Teams of the Deadball Era, Todd Peterson

The other two photos are of a rivalry in the ‘20’s between the Minneapolis Askin Marine Red Sox and the St. Paul Uptown Sanitary Shop.  These two teams would be the Black Baseball teams of their era as the two most prominent teams in Minnesota.

So thankful to Dave St. Peter and the Minnesota Twins for their continued support of Black Baseball in Minnesota and that part of the untold story.  Having these photos in Target Field help to insure that Black Baseball is a real part of our legacy of baseball in Minnesota.

The next time you’re at Target Field, go up to Town Ball Tavern and when you enter the photos will be to the left.  Also, the photos outside of the location have been updated, so take a look at those teams from an earlier time in Minnesota history.